PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
1 More
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
4 More
The Artistic Journey – A Distinguished West Coast Collection
PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)

Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise

PAUL CEZANNE (1839-1906)
Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise
oil on canvas
32 x 25 5/8 in. (81.2 x 65.2 cm.)
Painted in Pontoise circa 1881
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Cagnes (acquired from the artist).
Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
Maurice Renou, Paris.
Galerie Barbazanges, Paris.
Ralph H. Booth, Detroit (acquired from the above, June 1926, then by descent); sale, Christie’s, London, 20 June 2006, lot 108.
Private collection, United States (acquired at the above sale); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 7 November 2007, lot 33.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
F. Fosca, "Trente ans d’art indépendant, 1884-1914" in Art et décoration, vol. 49, April 1926, p. 99 (illustrated).
P. Courthion, Panorama de la peinture française contemporaine, Paris, 1927 (illustrated, pl. 33; titled Paysage).
L. Venturi, Cezanne—Son art, son oeuvre, Paris, 1936, vol. I, no. 308 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 83; titled Paysage and dated 1879-1882).
R. Goldwater, "Cezanne in America: The Master’s Paintings in American Collections” in The Art New Annual, vol. 36, no. 26, 26 March 1938, p. 152 (illustrated; titled Landscape and dated 1879-1882).
J. Rewald, The Paintings of Paul Cezanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, vol. I, p. 328, no. 485 (illustrated, vol. II, p. 156; titled Maisons dans la verdure).
W. Feilchenfeldt, J. Warman and D. Nash, The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of Paul Cezanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné (, no. FWN 167 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Trente ans d’art indépendant, 1884-1914, February-March 1926, p. 187, no. 2875 bis (titled Paysage).
Detroit Institute of Arts, Fifth Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Masters, October 1927, no. 70 (with incorrect dimensions).
New York, Reinhardt Galleries, Loan Exhibition of Paintings from Memling, Holbein and Titian to Renoir and Picasso, February-March 1928, no. 26 (illustrated; titled Landscape).
Detroit Institute of Arts, Exhibition of Modern French Painting, May-June 1931, p. 13, no. 11.
Sale room notice
Please note that the present lot is displayed with a loaner frame for the exhibition, which is available for purchase.

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Formerly owned by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and painted circa 1881, Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise dates from a pivotal, transformative moment in Paul Cezanne’s career. Having absorbed the lessons of his mentor and friend, Camille Pissarro, in the 1870s Cezanne had moved from his dark, early style, to depictions of nature rendered with an Impressionist handling and palette. By the turn of the decade however, the artist was seeking something more in his paintings of the landscape; as he famously stated, he wanted to “make of Impressionism something solid and enduring like the art in museums” (quoted in P.M. Doran, ed., Conversations with Cezanne, Berkeley, 2001, p. 169).
Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise perfectly demonstrates this new direction. Here, a verdant corner of the Ile de France is pictured, the slate roofs and white washed buildings nestled into a tapestry-like composition of emerald and sage hues, highlighted by glimmers of blue, teal and turquoise. While in places Cezanne’s brushwork still retains the looseness and lightness of quintessential Impressionism, the buildings in the center of the composition—the focal point of this landscape—are rendered with a greater sense of structure and form. Cezanne has arranged the middleground leading up to these houses with horizontal bands composed of pigment laid down in regular, square strokes.
As such, this work encapsulates Cezanne’s belief that, “There are two things in the painter: the eye and the brain. The two must co-operate; one must work for the development of both, but as a painter: of the eye through the outlook on nature, of the brain through the logic of organized sensations which provide the means of expression” (quoted in J. Rewald, Paul Cezanne, London, 1959, p. 117). It was this increasingly systematic, structural network of brushstrokes that would come to define Cezanne’s painting. The emergence of his so-called constructive style allowed him to achieve a more classically composed, enduring, and defined vision of nature, while at the same time, enabled him to maintain the essential qualities and the sense of the place he was depicting—the sensation of the landscape.
As the title states, this work was painted in Pontoise. The artist had first ventured to this picturesque town just under a decade prior, in 1872. The principal purpose for his trip was Pissarro, who had lived and worked there since 1863. So enamored was Cezanne with the artist and the area that he moved his family to nearby Auvers-sur-Oise a few months later. Over the years that followed, the two artists exerted an important influence on one another—firstly, Pissarro over Cezanne, but latterly, it was Cezanne’s desire to go beyond Impressionism that served as an important example to Pissarro, who was as he described, his “wise counsellor and something like God Almighty” (quoted in Cezanne, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1996, p. 28).
From May to October 1881, Cezanne returned to Pontoise, renting a house at 31, quai du Pothuis, walking distance from Pissarro’s home, L’Hermitage. Pontoise was also close to Médan, the home of Cezanne’s childhood friend, the author Emile Zola. The landscape around these rural towns and villages was to become an important setting with which Cezanne could experiment with his new, more structural and logical approach to the portrayal of nature, as exemplified in the painting of Zola’s home, Le Château de Médan (FWN, no. 149; Glasgow City Art Gallery), as well as the present work. This was Cezanne’s final stay in this region, “a place where he painted some of his most beautiful pictures and, it is often maintained, reached artistic maturity,” John Rishel has described (ibid., p. 229), and the last time he would work in close proximity to Pissarro. From this point onwards, it would be his native Provence that exerted the greatest influence over the artist and his art.
Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise was acquired from Cezanne by fellow Impressionist and friend, Renoir. Renoir had a deep admiration for Cezanne, “How does he do it?” he once remarked. “He has only to put two strokes of color on the canvas and it’s already something” (quoted in A. Danchev, Cezanne: A Life, London, 2013, p. 9). This was one of five works that Cezanne gifted to Renoir over the years of their friendship—others included an early landscape, Chaumières à Auvers-sur-Oise, from 1872-1873 (FWN, no. 66; Pola Museum of Art, Hakone) and a watercolor of La route tournante à La Roche-Guyon of 1885 (FWN, no. 204; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton). While it has been suggested that the artist gave the present work to Renoir as part of an exchange, possibly for a portrait, John Rewald has stated, “It is unlikely that Renoir traded it against the pastel portrait of Cezanne he had drawn in 1880, which Cezanne later copied and which—it would seem—he subsequently offered to his friend Victor Choquet. In any case, there is no evidence that Cezanne ever owned another work by Renoir” (The Paintings of Paul Cezanne: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1996, vol. 1, p. 328).
After Renoir, the work was acquired by the patron, dealer, and collector, Maurice Renou. A friend of many of the artists of his day, Renou was also a keen collector of Cezanne—alongside the present work, he owned one of the artist’s self-portraits, Portrait de l’artiste à la palette, now in the Bürhle Collection, Zurich (1886-1887; FWN, no. 499). After passing through the hands of Ambroise Vollard and then the Galerie Barbazanges, in 1926 the painting entered the collection of Ralph H. Booth, the American publishing magnate, who with his wife, Mary, amassed an important group of Old Master, late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century works, which they hung in their home, Grosse Point, near Detroit. Not only did they collect for themselves, but the Booths also provided funds for the purchase of masterpieces for major American museums. The principal beneficiaries of the family’s generosity, both from acquisitions and bequests, were the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Maisons au Chou, à Pontoise remained in their family collection for a century, until it was sold at Christie’s, New York in 2006.

More from 20th Century Evening Sale

View All
View All